Essential Tools

Why Enameled Cast Iron Discolors (& How to Fix It)

March 10, 2017

I treat my Staub better than I treat my cat. I treat both well—don't worry—but my Staub lets me cradle it and wash it and fuss over it in a way that my cat does not tolerate.

That's why I was alarmed (ashamed, even) to find discoloration—brownish, coppery mottling—on the sides and bottom of my graphite-colored cocotte. Where had I gone wrong? Had I had not cared for it properly? I had used it to sauté Suzanne Goin's Genius Slow-Cooked Kale (...five times) and to bake no-knead bread—but I certainly had not pushed it to its limits.

I scrubbed with dishwashing liquid and a sponge—but no dice. I figured that I was stuck with the stains for life.

Before and after.

But the Staub gods smiled upon me and my precious pot. It just so happened that Director of Marketing for Staub, Joanna Rosenberg, told Kristen Miglore that this kind of marking was what happened when fats like oils and butters aren't fully cleaned off and then burn onto the sides of the pan.

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Top Comment:
“I like to take very good care of my kitchen ware too, as gunk on a beautiful pan or pot detracks from its beauty. and I believe it doesn't work as well when I use them. 😉”
— Cate E.
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The solution—which won't come as a surprise to you if you're up to date on all of our enamel care news—is good old Bar Keeper's Friend. And what a friend indeed!

Stains, begone! (My Staub went topless for the second pictures.)

I put my pot in the sink, dampened it with water, sprinkled Bar Keeper's Friend over the problem areas, and scrubbed—rather firmly—with a paper towel. In a few minutes, the stains were gone and my love for my Staub was renewed. (And the BKF worked to clean up my other scorch-bottomed pot, too.)

Some of our finest enameled cast iron pots:

Looking for more happy-ending transformation stories?

We first ran this post last spring, but are bringing it back in case you missed the memo and want to get your cocottes shining like new. Read how our favorite enameled cast iron is made, and shop for it, here.

What are your best kitchen cleaning tricks? Tell us in the comments.

11 Comments

Matt H. March 10, 2017
Any ideas for when this doesn't work? I've taken BKF to my Falcon enamelware a few times now and no dice.
 
Kat March 10, 2017
I've always used baking soda mixed with a little bit of water, just enough to make a paste. But it does require some elbow grease! I'm trying this to see if it's more time-efficient.
 
msmely March 16, 2017
I usually try the baking soda first, since it's less abrasive than BKF. BKF works every time though.
 
Walt February 13, 2017
Another way I clean burned-on oils/etc is to turn our oven to “self clean” and wait overnight. This is fr'instance a great pre-treatment for seasoning cast-iron (no enamel) pans.<br />Would these pots be OK subjected to a few hours of ~600º heat? All else equal, I'd rather not create a lot of fine scratches in the beautiful enamel finishes.
 
cosmiccook January 15, 2017
how about insides for Le Creuset? I even bought their expensive cleaner--which is hazardous
 
barbara N. October 3, 2016
Is this safe for the insides as well? My enameled lodge are discolored inside.
 
Tim October 3, 2016
Bon Ami is even better
 
Cate E. September 3, 2016
Good tip!<br />I had a similar problem, and found that the Mr. Clean eraser sponge did a fabulous job as well and did not take long. I like to take very good care of my kitchen ware too, as gunk on a beautiful pan or pot detracks from its beauty. and I believe it doesn't work as well when I use them. 😉
 
Claudia T. August 16, 2018
I agree with the Magic Eraser! I also love BKF but I find the Magic eraser (or whatever store brand knockoff) so convenient and also works on melamine (I've only done quick wipes on stained chopsticks though), vintage Corning Ware, tea-stained mugs.
 
Betsey April 19, 2016
And by "a few minutes" you actually mean " a few hours".
 
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Sarah J. April 19, 2016
Nope! It honestly took seconds rather than minutes—1 minute max.